• September 20, 2013: Welcome to Jennifer Feltner, Cindy Tsai, and Stephen Crook, our three new PhD students.
Jennifer Feltner is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Chinese language and literature in 2001. Jennifer spent several years working in international relations and non-profit management before making a career shift to wildlife and conservation ecology. She completed post-bac coursework in wildlife biology at Colorado State University in 2012 and recently left the Mammals Research Program at Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Fort Collins CO where she worked as a research and field technician for two years. She is excited to combine her previous professional background with her new expertise in mammal ecology as she studies monkey ecology and human interactions in FNNR with the CNH project.
Cindy Tsai is from Taipei, Taiwan, and graduated with a Bachelor's in Geography from National Taiwan University. She arrived in San Diego in 2009 and began working on GIS and remote sensing projects with Professor Douglas Stow and Professor Emeritus John R. Weeks. She worked locally for some time on mapping issues ranging from vegetation monitoring to border patrol. Cindy is refocusing on environmental issues and Land Use/Land Cover Change with the Golden Monkey Project.
Stephen Crook is from Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from UCLA in 2008. He received his Master's degree with distinction in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from Oxford University in 2012. Stephen spent time both teaching and planning course curricula in Spain and across California, including programs for at-risk youth in San Diego. He plans to continue analysis of complexity in China's Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Payment for Ecosystem Services program. Steve is an enthusiastic outdoorsman, and enjoys hiking, surfing, or just being in nature.
• September 11, 2013: Invited by Stephen Welter, SDSU Vice President for Research, and Paul Wong, Dean of College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Li An and Shuang Yang attended the Campanile Foundation Annual Board Dinner at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center along with ten other prominent faculty and students. A poster, entitled “The Clock is Ticking for the Golden Monkeys”, was set up in the foyer during the event. With great enthusiasm and interest, many participants stopped by our easel and interacted with Li and Shuang about our NSF CNH project “CNH: Impacts of Ecosystem Service Payments in Coupled Natural and Human Systems”. These participants include Vice President Dr. Stephen Welter, Dean of College of Sciences Dr. Stanley Maloy, and Director of Confucius Institute Dr. Lilly Cheng.
• June 14, 2013: A 3-day NSF-sponsored summer workshop, with a focus on training local K-12 teachers, was held on June 12-14 at San Diego State University. To fulfill the education objectives of the NSF CNH project, the workshop aimed to help San Diego local school teachers develop new curriculum and learning activities. Under the new curriculum, many k-12 students will be engaged in research about Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and sustainability of Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. Eight teachers from three local schools, i.e., Helix Charter High School, Jacumba Middle School, and Pine Valley Middle School, participated in the workshop.
During the workshop, presentations and hands-on trainings were provided to give the teachers insights into the project: Dr. Rebecca Lewison and Dr. Li An gave presentations on Biodiversity and Biology of the golden monkey, respectively, on the first day of the workshop; Dr. Minjuan Wang demonstrated WebQuest and other tools for developing instructional materials. The second day was featured by Dr. Stuart Aitken's presentation on Participatory Mapping and Pete Coulter's workshop on Remote sensing imagery interpretation and Google earth. PhD student Shuang Yang introduced social and demographic facts of the research area (FNNR) at the beginning of the third day, followed by Drs. Xiaodong Chen and An's presentation about China's Grain to Green program and its implementation.
The successful workshop concluded with discussions about participants' own plans for their 2013 Fall semester curriculum. These teachers will use the technologies they learned from the workshop, use the data they obtained from the NSF CNH project, and improve their teaching about PES in Coupled Natural and Human Systems. For instance, two teachers will develop tools using WebQuest to teach Math, and two other teachers will develop activities around Google Earth to teach science. One teacher (Rose Ann Morris) created a PowerPoint titled "The Golden monkey, our middle school, and our local community: a look at biodiversity". Dr. Minjuan Wang will conduct follow-up evaluations with teachers in the 2013 Fall semester, to assess students' learning outcomes from creative lesson plans. A similar workshop will be held in the summer of 2014, with possible more data and in-depth insights from our project team.
• January 30, 2013: A delegation of visitors from the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) Administration was warmly welcomed to the SDSU campus in late January. The delegation consisted of FNNR former director Yeqin Yang, biologist and Head of Department of Scientific Research and Education Yang Qiu, Deputy Head of Department of Finance Hanjun Yuan, and Lei Shi, botanist at Department of Scientific Research and Education. Workshops were held on January 29 and 30 to discuss FNNR's payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs, socioeconomic and biophysical environment of the reserve, and options for GIS and remote sensing of the area. On the second day Geography Department Chair, Dr. Stuart Aitken, led a workshop on human geography, with discussion of possibilities for participatory mapping and household surveys. Geography PhD candidate Alex Zvoleff gave a GIS and Remote sensing workshop, well attended and appreciated by the delegates and SDSU graduate students.
Other highlights of the visit were a tour of the Confucius Institute with a presentation by its Director, Dr. Lilly Cheng, and a campus tour which included the Geography Department labs. The delegation was able to experience San Diego through sightseeing in Mission Bay and boating at the San Diego Yacht Club, and mingle with members of the Geography Department during a BBQ party hosted by Dr. Aitken. This annual visit remains a valuable resource for research opportunities in both countries and continues to facilitate greater collaboration between the FNNR and SDSU's Geography Department.
• November 1, 2012: The NSF CNH Project, "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", was recently featured in SDSU's newspaper The Daily Aztec. "If we learn more about the effectiveness of ecosystem payments, we can better understand what it takes to sustain environments, local people's livelihoods, and endangered species such as these," An said. To read the full article, see page two of the November 1st edition of The Daily Aztec.
• October 30, 2012: Professor Li An, the PI of the NSF CNH Project "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems" has received a letter of congratulations from the SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for the receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. This project aims to investigate the interaction between payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman remarks on the importance of the project to scientific research and the distinction brought to both the Department of Geography and SDSU by this project.
• September 4, 2012: The STACS group Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) team has received congratulations from College of Arts and Letters Dean Paul Wong, Provost Nancy Marlin, and SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for their receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the interaction between PES programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman noted the importance of the project to the university as a whole, saying "It is wonderful news for you, your colleagues in the college, and the entire university. I look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of your work as you proceed." Congratulations to the project team! See the August 22, 2012 news item for additional details on the research project.